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Seattle Hempfest Celebrates 20 Years with Largest 'Protestival' in the World

Sam Sabzehzar 2011-08-22 0 comments

With roughly 300,000 people attending the three-day “Protestival”,¬†Seattle’s Hempfest celebrated their 20th Year Anniversary, making the world’s largest cannabis rally an emotional, and at times cathartic, event held with great reverence.

By Sam Sabzehzar  |  August 22, 2011

Rick Steves addresses the audience about one of the places he likes to go once in a while: a place called "high." (Photo credit:

With cleanup coming to completion, the end of the 20th year of Hempfest will be remembered as one of the most successful celebrations, as if the death of marijuana prohibition had already occurred and the whole world was celebrating, we just happened to be in Seattle.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich was the keynote speaker this year, as he engaged a sea of supporters to get active and get involved to help end marijuana prohibition in America.

At one point, travel writer Rick Steves told the audience from the main stage that one of his favorite place to go is “high,” and as he’s seen many places around the globe he assured everyone that other places that have already reformed their marijuana laws as much as they can, like Seattle, and how beneficial it has been for all ages.

“Teen use is down in places that have decriminalized drugs, adult use is down, abuse is down, and in nearly every category, abuse drastically goes down because help is available for those who need and want it, rather than criminalization,” Steves said.

“Prohibition is more harmful than the plant,” said another speaker, Aaron Houston, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. A point echoed by more and more Americans, including parents, who have seen first hand how destructive prohibition has been to their children because the got caught with pot, not because the plant itself harmed them.

As students return to school this September, those who are on a scholarship of some kind can have it pulled if they get caught with cannabis, which hurts their lives in many more ways than using cannabis, even by smoking it, could ever do.

Jodie Emery (left) and Cheryl Shuman, from Kush Magazine, who spoke about rebranding the cannabis consumer through shows "Wilfred". (Photo credit:

Jodie Emery, who’s husband Marc was extradited from Canada to serve a five-year sentence in the states for mailing cannabis seeds, was an inspiration to many who came to wish her well pay respect to their struggle.

Ms. Emery was also inspired by the hundreds of thousands standing up to free americans from the bitter grip of prohibition, announcing from the main stage just before Rep. Kucinich how moved she was to see the ongoing support for her husband, adding “there are hundreds of thousands of prisoners serving time who don’t have the kind of support” that she and Marc have had.

Another Freedom Fighter, Madeline Martinez, who was featured on Democracy Now! for providing medical cannabis in Oregon for free, sees the daily struggle of patients first hand.

“Freedom is a place that you go in your head, and sometime cannabis gets you there when nothing else can,” said Madeline Martinez, who drove up from her World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon.

“Free our courts from non-violent drug offenses as if non-violent drug use is offensive. ¬†Free up the police so they can protect their citizens. Stop arresting them, stop harming them by choosing to punish adults and young adults who choose to use a plant to relax instead of drink, or wear it instead of genetically modified fabrics with chemicals in the colors and slavery stitched into them,” Martinez added.

The Hemposium Tent held three day's of Speaker panels full of physicians, herbalists, advocates, growers, and patients. (Photo credit:

By the time the Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn reminded the crowd that although Rep. Dennis Kucinich spoke out, very few elected officials are willing to, and that “it is up to all of us going forward to help end prohibition in America.”

Speaking as the Mayor, McGinn knows first hand how he has been able to allocate resources that were waisted on the drug war in areas where his city could use the funds.

Seattle also had a city counsel vote unanimously to allow dispensaries after Washington as a state voted against it last year.

Distribution is the elephant in the room, and in Spokane is has even gotten the attention of the Feds.

There have been several Federal indictments and dozens of arrests after patients were taking the lead creating a distribution method where safe access is achieved.

Until safe access distribution methods are created, not just in Washington, but in America and around the world, there will be ‘Protestivals’ regardless of how long it takes, and it will only continue to grow.